Can you buy Google reviews?

If your business doesn’t have many reviews on your Google business page, or maybe has too many negative ones, you may be wondering if you can buy Google reviews. While it’s possible to do so, the short answer is the cliche “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” While there are ways to get disingenuous and non-organic reviews, based off of google guidelines to remove inappropriate reviews, the practice is not appreciated by Google (or really any review site). Using fake reviews can result in getting your business blacklisted or worse, as some review sites are cracking down and taking legal action against egregious offenders.

In other words: don’t pay for Google Reviews, Yelp Reviews, Zillow Reviews or any other type of online review. It’s much easier (and more effective) to get real reviews with an online review management platform. Whatever your tactic, it’s important to operate in compliance with Google Review guidelines and Yelp Review Guidelines. Those that fail to abide by the guidelines can quickly find themselves struggling to get back in good graces.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Yelp Reviews

One of the most common ways businesses find themselves in hot water is through buying online reviews on sites like Google and Yelp. According to each of their guidelines, this is a big no-no. We believe them, especially after seeing how Yelp punished a company that offered cash for authentic reviews. Yelp’s terms of service strongly advise against this and state that a review must state that it’s one of compensation or it is, in theory, false advertising.

Yelp has also let it be known that they’re not joking around. Yelp reiterated the existence of their Consumer Alerts program and previewed the alert which is visible on a company’s Yelp profile if/when the company is caught trying to manipulate reviews. The Consumer Alert below will appear on the company’s Yelp page for 90 days. They have activated an additional 51 Consumer Alerts.

Yelp consumer alert
This is the message that will appear on your company’s Yelp page if they’re found guilty of buying reviews.

Last of all, Yelp has stated that they have a team that monitors message boards, classifieds, and Yelp’s review site, itself for those who buy reviews. Any suspicious activity, like buying Yelp reviews, can land you in a position that is a tough one to climb out of.

Still thinking you want to buy a yelp review?

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Google Reviews

Similar to Yelp, Google dislikes businesses that buy Google reviews. Doing so is also against Google’s guidelines and they too have a process for detecting Google business pages that engage in the practice. Google, however, treats the situation differently than does Yelp. Rather than publicly embarrass the company that buys a Google review, Google will simply take it down.

While Google may not be as harsh, the company still takes a holistic approach to the quality of their reviews. In fact, Google has roughly 12 different types of violations that will inspire the removal of reviews:

  • Advertising
  • Spam
  • Phone Numbers or URLs
  • Off-topic Reviews
  • Keep it Clean
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Illegal Content
  • Copyrighted Content
  • Sexually Explicit Material
  • Impersonation
  • Personal and Confidential Information
  • Hate Speech

It’s safe to say that buying Google reviews is consistent with a number of these violations. Therefore, it’s wise for any business to steer clear of buying reviews. Not to mention, the FTC has said that the practice is illegal.

Don’t buy Google reviews.

Don’t Buy Reviews, Earn Them

We have written extensively on how a business can earn online reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. For many, it’s as simple as asking for feedback (verbally or virtually). Today, many businesses are turning to online reputation management tools to help them collect and manage reviews on a number of online reviews sites. The benefits of following this trend are endless:

  • No more awkward asks (let the tool ask for you via text or email)
  • Higher conversion rates (more convenient for the customer)
  • Track online reviews from multiple sites
  • See when a new review goes online (positive or negative)
  • Track trends in your reviews to help drive customer experience

In conclusion, it’s important that small businesses and marketing professionals alike, understand that buying reviews of any kind, can be detrimental. Instead of buying a Google review or soliciting a Yelp review, use an online reputation management platform that can help you more efficiently (and compliantly) collect quality reviews that can help drive your business higher in local search and brand trust.

Matt Boyce
Matt Boyce Head of SMB Marketing

Matt Boyce is a marketing and business professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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